Photo: James Arthur Ray.
Three people died at the sweat-lodge ceremony near Sedona, Ariz. Ray, the self-help guru who built a multi-million dollar empire as a motivational speaker, is facing three counts of manslaughter, and a $5 million bond -- an amount his attorney calls "excessive and oppressive."
Photo: "Sweatbox" structure at Angel Valley Resort.
"Despite misconceptions perpetrated in the media, Mr. Ray is not a man of significant assets and certainly not the millions reported in the press," his attorneys wrote in documents obtained by The Associated Press from the court.
Ray himself has touted his wealth and success in numerous media interviews and on his Web site, including an estimated $10 million in revenue in 2009 and a seven-figure advance for his book, "Harmonic Wealth" that hit the New York Times Best Sellers List in May 2008.
Photo: James Arthur Ray.
He told "Fortune Magazine" for an April 2008 article that his financial goal was $21 million a year.
But the court documents paint a much different picture, showing that he is severely in debt with a net worth of negative $4.2 million. Real estate makes up about $3.1 million of Ray's total assets of nearly $4.2 million, but he has little equity.
Photo: Kirby Brown.
Prosecutors contend Ray recklessly crammed more than 50 participants of his "Spiritual Warrior" event into a 415-square-foot sweat lodge, a sauna-like experience that uses heated stones to cleanse the body and is commonly used by Native American tribes. Many participants have said Ray chided them for wanting to leave, even as people were vomiting, getting burned by hot rocks and lying unconscious on the ground.
Three people died - Kirby Brown, 38, of New York state, James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee; and Liz Neuman, 49, of Minnesota. Eighteen others were hospitalized.
Ray has pleaded not guilty to each of the manslaughter counts. If convicted, he faces up to 12 1/2 years on each count, with probation also possible.
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